Kings fall to Predators 4-3 in overtime after big rally
The numbers didn’t appear to compute for the Kings.
They started Darcy Kuemper, who won three out of four previous matchups against the Nashville Predators, with one shutout, instead of Jonathan Quick and his 5-8-2 career record against them. But that backfired early.
They prepared for the unorthodox 1-1-3 attack by Nashville. But that adjustment didn’t go well at first.
And the Kings’ shiny home record looked as if it would take its first real smudge when they were down by three goals going into the third period Saturday at Staples Center.
But the Kings rallied mightily and settled for a 4-3 overtime loss in a wild game that ended when Viktor Arvidsson scored on a breakaway with 20 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t play well enough in the first two periods,” Christian Folin said. “But obviously it’s a tough opponent. They did really well last year, so it’s more important for us to come back and tie the game. I wish we would have won it in overtime, but you can’t win them all.”
The Kings, who don’t have a regulation home loss (5-0-2), stormed back from down 3-0 with goals by Alex Iafallo, his first in the NHL, and Folin, his first with the Kings, in the opening six minutes of the third period, and tied it on Alec Martinez’s power-play goal.
Iafallo took a pass from Anze Kopitar and scored on an open net in transition. It was an ironically easy goal considering the countless chances the talented winger has had this season. He is the third Kings player to get his first NHL goal this season, after Kurtis MacDermid and Michael Amadio.
Folin’s score was part smarts and part a poor decision by backup goalie Juuse Saros. Folin faked a dump-in inside the red line but shot it on net. Saros moved to his left in anticipation. He stuck his stick out to stop the shot but the puck ramped off it and in to make it 3-2.
It was the break the Kings sought after an atypical first 40 minutes.
Kuemper and his teammates gave up two goals on the first three shots and chased the game through two periods. Two Kings power plays to start the game went for naught and Nashville, which beat the Ducks on Friday night, took the game from there with two goals in 54 seconds in the first period.
Miikka Salomaki raced to catch a length-of-the-ice pass from Yannick Weber and lifted the puck past Kuemper. Then P.K. Subban’s wrist shot went through Jake Muzzin and Kuemper on its way to the net.
Craig Smith gave the Predators a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Filip Forsberg slipped a pass to Smith streaking down the left side in one of the prettier plays of the game that muted the crowd of 18,230.
“I thought we played good early in the hockey game, just bad bounces ended up in our net,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “But quite honestly that game’s good for us. A lot of adversity throughout the course of a hockey game … and you’ve got to deal with some setbacks. It was good that we had to face some adversity.”
Before the puck dropped, those same fans and the Kings were smiling on the bench upon listening to Dave “Tiger” Williams in a pregame tribute for the NHL’s all-time leader in penalty minutes.
“Get rid of these … rules and get back to old-time hockey,” Williams said to the players when asked whether his record will be broken.
Williams was obliged with two fights in the first seven minutes. MacDermid laid a big hit on Calle Jarnkrok and therefore was summoned to fight Cody McLeod in a heavyweight tilt that wasn’t much of one.
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @curtiszupke
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